Greenhouse Mafia: The Dirty Dozen

Last week I wrote about the greenhouse mafia in Australia. This week, Clive Hamilton has named the “dirty dozen”, the twelve people who have worked together to mislead Australians about climate change. The Age reports:

Speaking at the Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference yesterday, Dr Clive Hamilton dubbed the group – including Prime Minister John Howard, businessman Hugh Morgan and The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell – “the dirty dozen”.

Dr Hamilton is the executive director of the Australia Institute and was invited to the conference in Adelaide to deliver a speech titled “The state of the debate over climate change in Australia”.

Nominating 11 men and one woman, Dr Hamilton accused the group of doing “more than all others over the past decade to prevent any effective action to reduce Australia’s burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions”.

“I hope that in 50 years’ time as Australians swelter in debilitating heatwaves, battle fierce bushfires, fight over dwindling water resources, lament the loss of unique species and tell stories recalling the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, they will be reminded of the names of those who refused to act in the face of overwhelming evidence of what lay ahead.”

The full speech goes into details of the activities of the dirty dozen. For example:

Chris Mitchell. As editor-in-chief at The Australian, and before that at the Courier Mail, Mitchell has adopted an aggressive stance against anyone arguing that climate change is a problem. Not only have the opinion pages of The Australian provided unlimited space for all of the anti-greenhouse crazies but the news pages have regularly been turned over to anti-greenhouse propaganda. As an illustration of how news values now take second place to ideology, The Australian in January ran an anonymous anti-greenhouse news story – note, not an opinion piece – by someone identified as a ‘special correspondent’ employed by the fossil fuel lobby.

The “story” is the usual collection of misleading and outright false claims. For example,

Most of the accepted warming from greenhouse gases in our atmosphere comes from water vapour, not carbon dioxide, and even then only a very small proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere comes from human activity.

Water vapour is the biggest contributor to the natural greenhouse effect, but the natural greenhouse gives us 33°C of warming, so even a relatively small increase makes a big difference to climate. And human activities have increased atmospheric CO2 from from 280 ppm to 380 ppm, which is not a small proportion.

The special correspondent also poses these questions:

first, is there conclusive evidence of anthropogenic climate change; second, if there is what is causing it;

What could cause anthropogenic climate change? Tough question. Maybe Mr Dictionary could help.

Wayne Sanderson comments:

Clive Hamilton is entirely right about the editor-in-chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell – he is biased on the issue of climate change, and has run a campaign of denial against it. (Mitchell is a right-wing social engineer on other issues, but that is another story for another day.) Hamilton has named Mitchell as being one of a “dirty dozen” who have misled the public on climate change (link below). I worked for Chris Mitchell when he edited The Courier-Mail, and apart from what I personally observed, was told by two roundsmen at the paper that Mitchell had told them not to bother submitting stories about climate change – they wouldn’t get a run. …

Along with their pro-war stance on Iraq, climate change has been the other great intellectual failure by conservative columnists and commentators – will they finally show some intellectual courage and acknowledge their failures? Will they resign for getting two such major issues so comprehensively wrong? Why do opinion page editors continue to publish twaddle from people whose credibility has been so shot to pieces? Both of these issues have been disastrous failures for Australian journalism. The real tragedy for the “profession” is that it is unlikely to do anything about it – a measure of the extent to which it has lost its way – and that these towering failures will continue to be given space to peddle their nonsense.

Comments

  1. #1 Forester
    February 22, 2006

    “I hope that in 50 years…”

    How easy it is to vent millennialist fantasies in the certain knowledge that by the time your prophecy comes to fruition, or not; most of those to whom you preach will be long dead.

    And in the full knowledge that those who support you have no idea of the hardship they would face if the full extent of your proposals were implemented.

    But, as all of us living in regional areas know, that it is we who will have to change our ways, not the urban elite who will suffer no more discomfort than having to upgrade to the latest hybrid SUV.

    And yet what irony! In an article quoting Dr Hamilton, Mr Sanderson accuses the editor of the Australian of bias!

    Bring on the Rural States…

  2. #2 Hans Erren
    February 22, 2006

    Just curious:
    Who are the twelve apostles of the contraran church?

  3. #3 mark
    February 22, 2006

    I don’t understand the previous comment. What proposals? In any case, I assume the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases are transport and industry, both concentrated in the cities, not rural areas?

    This is a great blog. I note that (sigh) Andrew Bolt has a new denial piece saying that Greenland glaciers are both retreating and advancing. Which for him seems to mean that global warming is a myth. But I have heard different stories on glaciers. Is there anything definitive that can be said?

  4. #4 Don Wigan
    February 22, 2006

    It looks like he hasn’t changed. From memory, this Chris Mitchell was the editor of the Courier-Mail a few years back when they ran the story that Manning Clark was really a Soviet spy who used to delight in wearing his Lenin Medal.

    Bolt and Hanoi Piers eat your heart out! This boy’s the one who’s got Rupert’s attention.

  5. #5 Tim Curtin
    February 22, 2006

    I hope for Clive Hamilton’s sake that Slater & Gordon (or other class action lawyers) don’t get to read his lecture on the “dirty dozen”. BTW at least 3 of the 12 mine(d) and export uranium that enables France, China and others to produce power free of CO2 emissions. Hamilton’s preferred scenario is for Australia to end coal fired power, stop mining uranium, and rely wholly on sun, wind, and pedal power. He would also like to see petrol priced at around A$4 per litre, as that would be the minimum level needed to moderate Australians’ love affair with the car (Tim Lambert should be able to cite the exact price elasticity of demand for petrol with reference to the 1970s when OPEC’s first rounds of hikes from around US$2 per barrel in say 1969 to US$12 in 1973/4 and rising by 1979 to about US$40 did have some impact on demand; the current increases from US$20 or so at 9/11 to US$60 now seem to have had little impact. Roll on the next election in Australia where I await with interest Hamilton’s manifesto’s vote winning prowess (his last effort which I heard at ANU was not a huge success – which is not to say that doomsayers are always wrong!)

  6. #6 John Cross
    February 22, 2006

    first, is there conclusive evidence of anthropogenic climate change; second, if there is what is causing it;

    I can see a way in which this statement could be intreperted so as not to be idiotic. Perhaps he is saying that if there is evidence of anthropogenic climate change then we should see what is causing it (i.e. the evidence). Thus we should be looking at who is causing this evidence to be manufactured. TO me this fits in much more with the overall view point of the skeptics.

    So you have a choice – idiotic or disingenuous!

    Forester: a quick question, do you agree with the viewpoint of the science presented in the article or are you worried that potential impacts will be more severe in the rural areas?

  7. #7 Bill O'Slatter
    February 22, 2006

    What Hamilton says is essentially a restatement of of Guy Pearse’s findings . The most serious allegation is “that Cabinet deliberations, ministerial committees and preparation
    of cabinet submissions are meant to be confidential and beyond the reach of lobbyists.Indeed, the unauthorised disclosure of cabinet-in-confidence materials is a crime. Yet the
    The Australia Institute research reveals that the greenhouse mafia has “unrivalled access” to internal government processes”.
    Whatever your views about greenhouse the relationship between the fossil fuel industries and the Howard government as presented by Pearse alleges an awe inspiring level of corruption that a third world government would be proud of. We have yet to hear Robert Hill’s view of events .
    As far as the list of key contrarian lobbyists goes I think you would have to distinguish between the key self interested drivers and the guns for hire ,On this basis I don’t think for example Chris Mitchell and Alan Oxley should be included in the list as they are dogs who bark when their masters decide. The relationship between the IPA and the fossil fuel industries will be a little more complex when it finally unravels ,

  8. #8 Steve Munn
    February 22, 2006

    Andrew Bolt, a right-wing attack dog who writes for the Murdoch owned Herald-Sun, wrote an article last year in which he said that big unions, big business and big government were all bad. I subsequently sent an e-mail to his web forum in which I asked does this apply to Murdoch’s News Ltd empire.

    Not surprisingly, Bolt replied saying that New Ltd was an exception to the rule as it adds much needed “balance” to a media that is “too liberal”.

    I mention this because “The Australian” is part of the Murdoch empire. Chris Mitchell, editor-in-chief at “The Australian” is just one of a vast army of Murdoch empire employees who faithfully deliver the approved message on a wide range of issues, and that includes AGW.

    Keep up the good work Tim. It is always a pleasure to read your blog.

  9. #9 Steve Munn
    February 24, 2006

    Murdoch empire attack dog Andrew Bolt is at it again with this article http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,18227401%255E25717,00.html

    It is dishonest of Bolt to argue that the media is a purveyor of gobal warming alarmism when News Limited employs a small army of denialists.

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